Speaking of New Zealand and investor-state dispute settlement, in the last post, NZ Prime Minister John Key mentioned the China - NZ FTA, so I looked it up. While skimming through the investor-state provisions, I came accross something I had not seen before:
Article 155 Interpretation of Agreement
1. The tribunal shall, on request of the state party, request a joint interpretation of the Parties of any provision of this Agreement that is in issue in a dispute. The Parties shall submit in writing any joint decision declaring their interpretation to the tribunal within 60 days of delivery of the request.
2. A joint decision issued under paragraph 1 by the Parties shall be binding on the tribunal, and any award must be consistent with that joint decision. If the Parties fail to issue such a decision within 60 days, the tribunal shall decide the issue on its own account.
Basically, if the government defending the case so requests, the tribunal "shall" request an interpretation by the Parties to the agreement of a relevant legal provision, and this interpretation is binding on the tribunal.
As I like to emphasize, I'm no investor-state expert, so perhaps this is a fairly common provision, and I was simply unaware of it. But let me ask those who are knowledgeable about this sort of thing: Does this kind of provision exist in other agreements? Has it ever been used?